Riding a motorcycle brings with it undeniable risks, but it may surprise you to know that the risk of suffering traumatic brain injuries is higher among motorcycle passengers than it is drivers. Traumatic brain injuries are the most common type of injury suffered in motorcycle crashes by both passengers and drivers. However, passengers face higher brain injury risks than drivers, regardless of whether they are wearing helmets while riding.

According to Reuters, a study involving motorcycle crashes that took place between 2007 and 2010 revealed additional critical information about the brain injury risks you face when traveling by motorcycle.

How helmets factor in

Some safety advocates believe that motorcycle passengers face higher head injury risks than drivers because passengers are statistically less likely to wear helmets than motorcycle drivers. Research shows that while about two-thirds of all people who drive motorcycles wear helmets, only about 67.5% of motorcycle passengers do the same.

Also, while motorcycle passengers suffered traumatic brain injuries in about 40% of motorcycle crashes, motorcycle drivers only did so in about 36% of cases. Interestingly, helmet use among motorcycle passengers had little impact on these numbers. Helmet-wearing motorcycle passengers suffered traumatic brain injuries in about 40% of cases, whereas non-helmet-wearing drivers only did the same in about 36% of cases.

Additional factors

Other factors may also help explain why motorcycle passengers face elevated head injury risks. Passengers may have less to hold on to in the event of a bike crash. Motorcycle drivers may also have added protections because they have windshields creating barriers between them and the roadway.

In some types of motorcycle crashes, passengers may also be more prone to ejection from the bike than the motorcycle drivers.